Posts Tagged ‘Bill Fennelly’

Cyclones Lacey, Brackins prepping for hoops career

April 2, 2010

AMES — Iowa State’s pro basketball prospects are gearing up for their drafts.

It was announced Thursday that Cyclone point guard Alison Lacey was one of 14 players invited to attend the WNBA’s Draft on April 8 in Secaucus, N.J.

She plans on being there, along with head coach Bill Fennelly, assistant Jodi Steyer and student assistant/roommate Brittany Lange.

Lacey has been working out since ISU’s season ended Sunday in a NCAA tournament loss to Connecticut. She hasn’t been sure about continuing her professional career,  but it sounds as if the WNBA is in her future.

“It is shocking that it is actually happening,” Lacey said. “Just to be mentioned with the people that will be at the draft is surreal. If you would have told me back in Australia that this would have happened there is no way I would have believed it.”

Lacey, a first-team all-Big 12 pick this season, will be the eighth player in ISU history picked for the draft and the first since Lyndsey Medders in 2007.

Other players in the conference joining her in person at the draft will be Oklahoma State’s Andrea Riley, Nebraska’s Kelsey Griffin, Kansas’ Danielle McCray and Oklahoma’s Amanda Thompson.

Meanwhile, former Cyclone big man Craig Brackins is living in Las Vegas, working out daily in preparation for the June 24 NBA Draft.

The 6-10 forward is sharing an apartment with Oklahoma State guard James Anderson, who also decided to leave school a year early for a chance at the NBA.

Brackins and Anderson became fast friends last summer while playing in the World University Games.

The Web site http://www.nbadraft.net projects Brackins as an early second-round pick.  He is hoping to go higher than that, obviously, and earn a guaranteed contract if selected in the first round.

Lacey taking it easy before Sweet 16

March 27, 2010

AMES — Alison Lacey was wiped out after Tuesday night’s hard-fought NCAA tournament win over Green Bay at Hilton Coliseum.

The Iowa State point guard still is getting her strength and wind back after sitting out three weeks with pneumonia. She of course will play Sunday when the Cyclones (25-7) take on No. 1 seeded Connecticut, and will do so after getting some much-needed rest.

ISU got past Lehigh with ease, but had to fight hard for a second-round win over Green Bay and its physical defense. Lacey played 36 minutes, something she hadn’t done in more than three weeks.

“She’s pretty worn down,” Coach Bill Fennelly said. “It’s not just the physical nature of the games, the emotional drain it had on her was just as bad.”

Lacey got Wednesday and Thursday off. She did practice some Friday before ISU took off for Dayton, Ohio, and its Sweet 16 match-up with the unbeaten Huskies, who sit at 35-0 right now.

The first-team all-Big 12 pick would like to be in more of a rhythm and continue getting back her shooting touch and timing with teammates, but Lacey’s body needs to recover more than anything.

She may have to go the whole way for the Cyclones to have a chance at snapping UConn’s 74-game win streak.

“There isn’t a whole lot of time left,” Fennelly said. “She needs to be as rested as she can be.”

How do Geno and his Huskies do it?

March 26, 2010

AMES — Bill Fennelly needed a break.

The television in his office Thursday afternoon was tuned to his second-favorite pastime after his Iowa State women’s basketball team – St. Louis Cardinal baseball.

“Hey man,” Fennelly quipped, “if you’ve been watching as much Connecticut video as I have, you’d want to watch something different. Something positive.”

The Cyclones will line up against No. 1-ranked and unbeaten UConn Sunday at 11 a.m. in Dayton, Ohio; looking to pull a Sweet 16 upset for the ages.

The Huskies (35-0) have won an incredible 74 consecutive games. How exactly?

Players like Tina Charles and Maya Moore sure help, but coach Geno Auriemma is the straw that stirs the drink. He gets his seemingly endless stream of blue-chippers to play at their best every minute they are on the floor.

“It can’t be just the players he recruits,” Fennelly said. “It’s built into their team and he demands it. Most of us try to demand it and don’t achieve it… He’s arguably one of the best basketball coaches of all-time.”

The NCAA-record winning streak has ISU’s coach most impressed.

“Not many people can say they showed up for work every day and do it at a very high level,” Fennelly said. “They’ve done it 74 times in a row.”

Connecticut has beaten its first to NCAA tournament opponents by a combined 110 points, including a 90-36 beat down of Temple, whose head coach, Tonya Cardoza, spent 14 seasons as an assistant under Auriemma in Storrs, Conn.

It doesn’t matter who you are. This team is relentless – and supremely confident.

“You’d better play or they are going to bury you,” Fennelly said. “The minute you relax it can go bad quick… They like the idea that they are better than everybody else. They act like it, they talk like it and play like it. You had better be ready for it.”

Prime time TV good for exposure, bad for fans

March 19, 2010

Late Night at Hilton Coliseum

AMES – Hilton Coliseum and Iowa State’s women’s basketball team will get great national exposure and face time Sunday in the NCAA Tournament.

The Cyclones’ late start – set by cable network ESPN, which holds the event’s broadcast rights – isn’t so great for those who have purchased tickets or are thinking of doing so.  Fourth-seeded ISU (23-7) will tip off its first-round game with No. 13 Lehigh (29-3) just shy of 9 p.m. local time.

That’s assuming the first game of the night on ESPN2 between No. 5 Virginia (21-9) and No. 12 Green Bay (27-4) doesn’t go long.

For adults getting to work the following day and kids coming back to school off spring break, schedules are going to be thrown for a loop.

Sunday’s winners will also play late. Tip off Tuesday is set for 8:30 p.m.

“It’s good from a television perspective,” said Callie Sanders, ISU’s Senior Associate Athletic Director and the site’s tournament director. “It’s not ideal from a fan perspective, but it’s not something we can control. We understand it is going to be more difficult. We hope the fans will appreciate the opportunity to see the games in person regardless.”

Game times were known in advance, then cemented when the pairings were determined.

Several thousand all-session ticket packages were purchased in advance and more have sold since Monday’s selection show.

More than 5,000 have been snatched up thus far.

“(The game time) hasn’t slowed our fans down,” Sanders said.  “We sold quite a few all-session as the season progressed and fans saw we were more likely to be in.”

The Cyclones have made the tournament field four years running and in 11 of Coach Bill Fennelly’s 14 seasons.

They played at home in first- and second-round games for five straight years from 1998-2002 when hosting duties went to the teams seeded fourth or better.

ISU, which is 8-2 in NCAA games at Hilton, also served as the host school in 2008 at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.

“It’s worth it,” Sanders said. “The only downside is the additional pressure it puts on the coaching staff they feel to get into the tournament. We go into these bids knowing our team might not be in it.”

Fennelly talked regularly this season about the need to get the Cyclones to the dance.

ISU lost five seniors and a key reserve off last year’s Elite Eight team and had a lot of questions going in. It ended up finishing second in the Big 12 Conference and earned the reward of playing at home in the postseason.

“It gives you something more to play for,” Sanders said.

“Bill is always motivated to make the tournament. That is a goal of his every year. Given the fact he had a pretty young team and some uncertainty early on… whatever he did it worked.”

The other three teams were scheduled to arrive in Ames Friday.

Sick Lacey will sit out Saturday’s Senior Day festivities

March 4, 2010

AMES – There will be one very notable absence Saturday when Iowa State’s senior class plays it final regular season game at Hilton Coliseum.

Star point guard Alison Lacey won’t be in uniform and may not even be in the building for the No. 13 Cyclones’ 2 p.m. game against Colorado. Lacey is fighting a respiratory illness that caused her to miss Wednesday’s loss at Oklahoma State and will keep her out of the lineup until next week’s Big 12 Conference tournament in Kansas City, Mo.

“She’s had trouble breathing and she’s real run down,” Coach Bill Fennelly said Thursday. “She’s better today but not anywhere where we would gamble at all to play her.”

Lacey did not travel to Stillwater, Okla., and has not done anything basketball related since ISU’s win over Kansas State last Saturday.

Doctors have ruled out mononucleosis, which Lacey battled last year.

ISU (22-6, 10-5 Big 12) has clinched a top four seed and first-round bye in the conference tournament and would secure the No. 2 seed with a victory. A loss to the Buffaloes (13-15, 3-12) could affect NCAA Tournament seeding, but that’s a risk Fennelly is willing to take.

Lacey ranks fifth in the league in scoring (17.1), is second in assists (6.5) and first in free-throw percentage (88.9) and assist-to-turnover ratio (3.2).

“There’s no reason to push it,” Fennelly said. “We have to figure out the best way for our team to have its best chance in the postseason. That is to have Aus (Lacey) as rested and ready to go as possible.”

Lacey: Future in hoops, U.S. up in the air

February 27, 2010

If Alison Lacey wants to, a career in the WNBA is likely hers

AMES – Rarely is Alison Lacey confused about much of anything relating to basketball.

Except now, as Iowa State’s star senior closes out a decorated career while also trying to decide whether she wants to make a living playing it.

“I don’t know what I want to do,” said Lacey, who came to Iowa and the United States from Canberra, Australia. “Sometimes I want to play. Sometimes I want to go home. Sometimes I want to stay here. It stresses me out so I just don’t think about it.”

One thing that is clear is that Lacey’s play this season has her among some elite company.

The 6-foot point guard is sixth in the Big 12 Conference in scoring (17.5 ppg), first in assists (6.7 apg) and leads the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio (3.3).

Lacey also is shooting 40.8 percent from 3-point range and is 11th nationally in free-throw percentage (88.7).

Coach Bill Fennelly said it may be ultimately rank among the greatest single seasons in school history.

She’s been the primary reason why this young Cyclone team is ranked No. 15 nationally with a record of 21-5 overall and 9-4 in the conference entering Saturday’s 7 p.m. game with Kansas State (12-15, 4-9) at Hilton Coliseum.

“She’s having a senior year like you hope every senior has,” Fennelly said, “and probably has put herself in the discussion of one of the best players ever to play here.”

Fennelly has had eight of his players selected in the WNBA Draft.

He thinks Lacey — one of only seven players in Big 12 history to amass 1,500 points, 500 rebounds and 500 assists — has the best chance of any of them to enjoy a lasting career as a pro.

“She’s the most prepared player that’s ever played here to go to that level,” Fennelly said. “She’s as good as any guard coming out. Her versatility, her skill set, her competitiveness… all those things. We are getting calls from every WNBA team.”

Lacey said she is leaning towards continuing with basketball, provided the injury problems she’s had during her career are minimized.

“It depends how my body feels,” Lacey said. “I feel good right now.”

The question then would be where to play. WNBA? Europe? Both?

“She could go home and be a professional and make a good living for a while and enjoy it,” Fennelly said.

Lacey also could finish her degree this spring and start a life back in Australia. Or stay in the U.S. until she’s ready to return home.

“Sometimes I miss home and miss my family. I haven’t had a summer back there in five years,” Lacey said. “But I’m ready to experience new things so I don’t know if I’m quite ready to go back.”

Fennelly has tried to provide her with reasonable advice.

“What I told her is not to close any doors until you know you are sure,” he said.

 Lacey admits it won’t be easy leaving the country.

“It’s so cheap here. And I love all the food now,” Lacey said. “I’ve grown accustomed to the way of life here. It’s more fast-paced than home. It’s really laid back in Australia. No one is that motivated. People just kind of hang out.”

Medders’ secret exposed; can ISU’s luck in Lincoln continue?

February 17, 2010

Former Iowa State point guard Lyndsey Medders and her former coach’s son now are husband and wife and living in Chicago where Billy Fennelly serves as an assistant women’s basketball coach at Northwestern.

The two began dating during Medders’ career that spanned 2003-07, a time when Fennelly was a student manager for his dad. Not wanting news of their relationship go public, or put anyone (umm, Bill Fennelly in particular) in an awkward position, the couple hid it from most of the outside world.

Lyndsey and Billy provided details of their secret romance for the first time in this piece, courtesy of ISU’s Alumni Association.

Check out Lyndsey’s web site and don’t hesitate to follow her on Twitter, if nothing else for the inspirational quotes she shares daily.

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Iowa State is looking for its fourth big-time victory in Lincoln, Neb., this athletic year.

First it was volleyball ending a 75-match losing streak to the Huskers. A few days later the football team won at Memorial Stadium for the first time since 1977.

The men’s basketball team snapped a 16-game losing streak in Big 12 road games last month.

The Cyclone women’s basketball team faces unbeaten and No. 3-ranked Nebraska (23-0, 10-0) Wednesday night. An ISU victory would be its eighth in nine games and the cherry on top of an already impressive NCAA Tournament resume.  

“We are going to go over there with the belief that we can,” Head Coach Bill Fennelly said. “Football did it, volleyball did it,  men’s basketball did it. We might as well go try and do it.”

ISU (19-4, 7-3) lost to the Huskers 57-49 in the teams’ Big 12 opener.

Nebraska has tied the single-season school record for wins and is one of only two teams nationally (No. 1 Connecticut) still without a loss.

“It’s one of those perfect storm kind of seasons for them,” Fennelly said. “It is probably the most difficult situation our team will play in all year. It comes at a time when we are playing well. I hope our players are excited about the challenge and seeing where we are.”

Welle’s jersey will hang from Hilton rafters

February 10, 2010

AMES — Angie Welle will be the fourth Iowa State women’s basketball player to have her jersey retired.

Welle, the school’s career scoring and rebounding leader, is joining former teammate Megan Taylor, along with Tonya Burns and Jayme Olson, in the Hilton Coliseum rafters.  The ceremony will Feb. 20 when ISU plays host to Missouri.

The weekend’s festivities also will celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the Cyclones’ first Big 12 Conference regular-season and tournament championships.

Welle statistically may be the most dominant player in program history. That translated into quite a successful stretch for ISU, which went 103-29 during her four seasons.

“When you really look at her statistical numbers — how she impacted the success of our program and our attendance — it almost defies belief,” Coach Bill Fennelly said.

During Welle’s four-year career (1999-2002), ISU made four NCAA Tournament appearances, including an Elite Eight finish and two Sweet Sixteens. The Cyclones also won two Big 12 Conference Tournament championships and a regular season title.

Individually, Welle closed out her career owning multiple career and single-season scoring, shooting and rebounding records. The Fargo, N.D., native still holds the Big 12 record for career field goal percentage and is ISU’s only player with 2,o00 or more points (2,149) and 1,000 or more rebounds (1,209).

Cyclone wbb making reservations at the Hilton

January 29, 2010

AMES — Bill Fennelly is breathing a little easier these days.

Barring an utter collapse or the swine flu infecting a half-dozen players, Iowa State (16-3, 4-2 Big 12) has to feel awfully good about its chances of playing at Hilton Coliseum in late March and putting fannies in the seats.

Hilton is one of 16 sites for first- and second-round NCAA Tournament games.

The Cyclones’ 63-56 victory over No. 11 Oklahoma (14-5, 4-2) on Wednesday only enhances their postseason resume that also includes a win at No. 19 Texas.

After an 0-2 start in the league, ISU has ripped off four straight victories and is finally seeing the balance the coach had hoped would be there by this point in the season.

That was evident agianst the Sooners.

Reserves combined for 14 points and 15 rebounds. Freshman Jessica Schroll ripped down 11 big rebounds and scored four points. Amanda Zimmerman added six points and Whitney Williams scored three and had a key assist to Kelsey Bolte late in the game.

“It’s the best our bench has played in a long time,” Fennelly said. “It was outstanding.”

Schroll responded well to being benched and berated after drawing a technical foul against Texas. Fennelly chewed her out, sat her at the end of the bench and did not play her the rest of the game.

The 5-11 guard got herself out of the doghouse and logged a career-high 32 minutes against OU.

“She came out and played with the energy and effort that this team needed,” Fennelly said. “That showed a lot of maturity on her part and I’m very proud of her for doing that. Most young people would not have acted that way considering what she’s gone through the last three days.

“She has obviously been raised right and coached right by other people.”

Lacey has played at an all-Big 12 level all season. Bolte is finally coming around in league games and asserting herself offensively.

The newcomers are fitting in and proving they can perform in crunch time. 

“I hope what is says is that our players are understanding and embracing the process,” Fennelly said. “Defensively we’ve been good most of the year. Now we are getting just enough scoring at just the right time. We are taking care of the ball and we have a great point guard.”

ISU plays at Kansas State Sunday.

Hoops kicks off busy stretch at Hilton

December 2, 2009

It’s going to be a busy week and a great next paycheck for Hilton Coliseum staffers.

There are events happening in the arena every day this week across three different sports. Throw in Iowa State’s women’s and men’s basketball games next Thursday and Friday against Iowa and the turnstiles are going to get a workout. So are the folks cleaning up popcorn.

Here’s the breakdown:

Tuesday night — Women’s basketball vs. Mississippi Valley State.

ISU (3-1) won two last weekend at a tournament in Chicago and plays nine of its next 10 at home. It’s an important stretch for this young team still figuring out which players it can trust and when. Coach Bill Fennelly is playing several different combinations, which includes four true freshmen.

“We may be talking about the same thing in March,” Fennelly said. “We are going to keep playing 10 kids and see who we can count on,” he said.

Wednesday night — Men’s basketball vs. Northern Iowa.

The Panthers were the best team in the state last season, reaching the NCAA Tournament by winning both the regular season and conference tournament championships. ISU may be the best of the Big Four this year.

That distinction goes through Cedar Falls.

“They were a good team last year and they didn’t really lose anybody,” said Cyclone forward Craig Brackins.

Thursday afternoon/night — NCAA volleyball practices and media obligations for host Iowa State and George Mason, Saint Louis and Wichita State. ISU hasn’t hosted a postseason volleyball match since the mid-1990s.

Friday night — NCAA volleyball: Saint Louis vs. Wichita State 5 p.m., ISU vs. George Mason 7:30 p.m.

Saturday — NCAA volleyball: Friday night’s winners meet at 6:30. If the Cyclones can beat GMU on Friday they’ll play for their third straight Sweet 16 appearance. That’s simply amazing considering where the program was at earlier on this decade.

Sunday — Wrestling vs. Iowa. New ISU coach Kevin Jackson has been pointing to this one since the day he was hired. The Cyclones haven’t come out on top in the Cy-Hawk Series since the 2004-05 season.  The curtain is being lifted at Hilton to accomodate what is expected to be a huge crowd for Jackson’s first big meet. It’s No. 1 vs. No. 2. Doesn’t get any bigger than this in the sport of wrestling.